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Barbara P. Seely (born Peters)


Gender: Female

Date of Birth: September 1, 1926

Date of Death: January 28, 2012

Birth Place: Philadelphia, PA

Death Place: Las Cruces, NM

Barbara P. Seely

Barbara was born in Philadelphia, PA to Ruby and Roland Peters on September 1, 1925. Though she spent her early years in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, her teen years were spent in Washington, DC where she graduated from Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. Barbara attended Presbyterian Church college of Westminster in Pennsylvania then transferred to her father’s alma mater, Penn State, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

The following year Barbara moved to Riverhead, Long Island, N.Y. to teach English Lit and Drama. Though she was accepted into the Yale’s School of Drama Master’s program, friends lured her to the Southwest. While pursuing a master’s at the University of Arizona in Tucson she met and fell in love with John Seely, a young pharmacy student and decorated WWII fighter pilot.

John and Barbara married in New Mexico where John was invited by his brother, Fred Seely, to join him in his drugstore in Deming, NM. The Seely’s in partnership with Mr. and Mrs. A.D. Graveline later bought Fred Seely Drugs and eventually the Rexall Drug Stores and Office Supplies in Deming and Silver City. Not many years later they sold and divided the businesses retaining ownership of Fred Seely Drugs. Barbara, along with her dear friend, Sally Darling, put in La Joya Jewelry store in Deming.

Barbara was not an idle person. She had a weekly radio show reviewing books at KOTS radio station and was also involved in the Deming Public Library summer reading program where she was a story teller. Barbara was very involved in her church, The First United Presbyterian Church, where she held a position on the board and taught Sunday school. She also served on the board of the Rio Grande Girl Scout Council serving southern NM and El Paso. When Barbara’s daughters were all school age, she returned to teaching. She taught English Literature, Grammar and Speech and Drama at Deming High School. She was passionate about teaching and took a genuine interest her students. At DHS she headed the National Honor Society, the Drama Club (with Harvilee Offutt) and was selected by fellow teachers to represent them in the NM House and Senate as an advocate and liaison for educators.

Barbara had many passions. She was involved in Book Club, bridge club, art lessons (painting, pottery, and drawing), Native American culture and art. Barbara and John moved back to Tucson in 1974. While in Tucson, a perpetual student herself, Barbara continued her studies by continually taking courses at the U of A. In 2000, Barbara moved to Las Cruces to be closer to her daughters after having been widowed in 1997. In Las Cruces Barbara became an active member of AAUW, Oral History and Red Hat of Deming. Barbara loved to travel and did so often to learn more about a culture, history or art. She was always up for a road trip to visit as Barbara’s greatest joys in her life were family and friends. Her daughters, grandchildren and stepson were her pride and joy.

She is survived by her four daughters, Susan (Robert) Salazar of Rio Rancho, Stephanie Seely (Beth Alexander) of Albuquerque, Ellen (Morris) Ellis of Las Cruces and Laura (John) Richey of Houston; stepson, Mark Seely of Berkeley, CA; her grandchildren, John and Elizabeth Salazar and Madeleine and Jax Richey; her sister, Nancy Ingram; a nephew, Jeffery and niece Megan; her three loving cats and a large extended family.

The family will have private services. In lieu of flowers a donation may be made in Barbara’s name to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, PO Box 2065, Santa Fe, NM 87504 or the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, 301South Silver Avenue, Deming, NM 88030. Entrusted to Baca’s Funeral Chapels and Sunset Crematory. 527-2222 Your exclusive providers of “Veterans and Family Memorial Care.”

Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on February 1, 2012

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